Intracellular metabolism is central to cell activity and function. CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) that express the transcription factor FOXP3 play a pivotal role in the maintenance of immune tolerance to self. Recent studies showed that the metabolism and function of Tregs are influenced significantly by local environmental conditions and the availability of certain metabolites. It also was reported that defined metabolic programs associate with Treg differentiation, expression of FOXP3, and phenotype stabilization. This article reviews how metabolism modulates FOXP3 expression and Treg function, what environmental factors are involved, and how metabolic manipulation could alter Treg frequency and function in physiopathologic conditions. The Journal of Immunology, 2016, 197: 2567-2575.
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